Thursday, May 4, 2017

Announcement (STICKY; Scroll Down For More Recent Posts)

     I’ve just made two changes to Liberty's Torch's commenting policy. I expect one to be popular, the other not.

     The likely-to-be-popular one is this: I’ve turned off the maximally annoying “Are you a real human being?” mechanism. I’ve been receiving complaints about it for a while now, so wave goodbye to it.

     The unlikely-to-be-popular one is this: To comment here, you must have a Google account, and must be logged in under the email address you registered with Google. I’ve grown tired of dealing with anonymous offal hurlers, and will have no more of it or them.

     Comments will still be moderated.

Your Neighborhood Curmudgeon,
Fran

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Day 100

     Base-10 arithmetic has an undeniable power. Those zeroes! They’re irresistible. So round, so firm.... They suggest a boundless, even transcendent significance without actually saying so...or saying why. And We the Ten-Fingered form all sorts of opinions and conclusions for no better reason.

     But really, Gentle Reader: Apart from all the neuroses over the Millennium Bug database problem – not one of which actually manifested in practice – what was so significant about the arrival of the Third Millennium After Christ? That after eight endless years we would finally get a replacement for the lying philanderer in the White House and his shrieking harpy of a wife?

     (And she sure stuck around long enough, didn’t she?)


     Base-10’s junior partner, of course, is the number 5. Numbers divisible by 5 are almost as appealing as the ones with the zeroes on the end. At any rate, they assume significant roles in a number of places.

     For example, consider the prominence of 5 in age-related matters:

  • At 5, she goes from being a toddler to a little girl...or if she’s been particularly naughty, a “young lady.”
  • At 25, a young man who needs auto insurance is no longer relegated to the Assigned Risk pool.
  • At 35, one has passed out of the “youth” demographic into what we once called “middle age.”
  • At 45, you get your first “preparedness” solicitations from those who sell burial plots.
  • At 55, most state and federal bureaucrats retire.
  • And at 65, you’re old.

     I suppose I should also mention that if the police raid your home for whatever reason and find five or more firearms, the news media will describe you as “heavily armed.” So if you want favorable treatment from the media vultures, keep it to four or fewer.


     As long as we’re playing with numbers, have a few puzzles I’ve always enjoyed. They go like this: You’re given a set of digits. Your goal is that, using any or all of the standard arithmetic and algebraic operators, you must form an arithmetic or algebraic expression with those digits that expresses a prescribed value. You must use all the digits given, and no others.

     Here are a few easy ones to get you started:

  • Express 100 using eight 8s.
  • Express 100 using four 9s.
  • Express 10 using five 1s.
  • Express 20 using two 3s.

     For our more advanced mathematicians:

  • Express 2 using two 4s.
  • Express 1 without using any digits whatsoever (Provide two solutions).
  • Now express -1 without using any digits (Provide two solutions).

     Have fun.


     Answers to questions no one is asking:

  1. Two cords.
  2. July 10, this year and every year.
  3. She retired from all singing and acting in 1949.
  4. Arthur M. Schlesinger.
  5. No one really knows.

     Questions at the end of this column.


     Most Gentle Readers come here expecting to read about politics or public policy, and I’m sure the title of this piece has given some reason to expect a political segment here, so I’ll bow to the expectation and oblige you.

     Trump’s doing just fine, folks. It’s the lily-livered Republicans in Congress who need spinal transplants.


     I watched an impressive movie just yesterday – at YouTube, of all places. Title: I’ll Follow You Down. It stars Rufus Sewell, Gillian Anderson, Victor Garber, and Haley Joel Osment. Here’s the IMDB listing for it.

     Briefly, the plot is about the disappearance of a physicist, a husband and father, after he’s traveled to a physics conference in Princeton in the year 2000. (Those zeroes again!) The disappearance shatters his wife, who becomes irremediably distraught, and moves his father-in-law and his genius son – both also physicists – to investigate the mystery.

     The movie is short, about 93 minutes, which suggests that it was edited for distribution to television. The direction, script, and acting are excellent. Its emotional impact is so high that I can’t figure out why it never made it into general release. The “science,” as in most SF movies, is hokey, but that’s about the only critical thing I can say about it. There are virtually no special effects. I recommend it highly.


     I don’t have a lot else to write about this morning, so here are the questions to the answers no one has been seeking:

  1. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck? (If he could chuck wood, that is.)
  2. What’s the day the Teddy Bears have their picnic?
  3. Whatever became of Deanna Durbin?
  4. What idiot popularized the notion that a president’s first hundred days are especially significant?
  5. Has Hillary Rodham Clinton ever achieved anything other than marrying a future president?

     You’re welcome. See you tomorrow.

Friday, April 28, 2017

I watched "The Handmaid's Tale," so you wouldn't have to


HandmaidsParodyPoster


ActualHandmaidsPoster_Twitter.png


They missed the mark by "this much..."

 

If an editor had substituted an Islamic "call-to-prayer" for every tolling church-bell, a line from the Muslim-trifecta (Koran/Sunnah/Hadith) for every New Testament quote, and a head-to-fingertip-to-toe all black Islamic woman-shroud for the scarlet red Maids' robes, then I'd say Hulu has a winner with their 10-part cautionary, "The Handmaid's Tale." But as it stands? It's a Hate+Hit piece which slanders all Christians, but particularly Protestants (a cathedral is shown being demolished; a priest is among the regime's most hated, executed-by-hanging, next to an abortion doctor and a homosexual).

I took forteen (smallish-) pages of notes during the currently available three episodes, complete with hour-minute designations, just so I could go back and "perfect" the quotations. Honestly, though, I'm not sure I want to give that much thought to proving how stupid, misguided, and downright inciting-to-hatred-of-Christians this production and its "creatives" are. I think I'd rather put the effort into a more reality-based novella, addressing the problems of the very same sleep-walking Western feminists, who in "T.H.T.," wonder aloud, "How did we let it happen..."

I only shouted at the screen a few times, "Same way you're 'letting' Islamic supremacism happen, right now, you idiots!" They don't see it in the EU, so they sure as heck don't recognize it'll be on our horizon, next.

If only the creatives involved in the series (and the sure-to-be-legions of fans) had an ounce of shame, they could wake up before this nightmare scenario comes true via our Islamic "friends." They won't, because in 2017, as they did back after 1986's novel, and 1990's first screen production, they still actually expect Christians to go on a rampage nationwide, "stretching necks" and gouging out eyes and clitorises(sp?).

Because they refuse to look, they'll never see the caliphate coming.
Therefore, they will become the very characters they wrote or pretended to be.
("Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition")

 

Reductio Ad Absurdum

     I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it. -- Voltaire

     Every writer – fiction; nonfiction; opinion; whatever – knows that there are days when he must not write. Days when his world is an unbroken landscape of pain. Days when his latest failure is all he can think about. Days when everything irritates him...especially the insistence of those around him that he should “buck up, it isn’t that bad.”

     On such a day, a wise writer stays well away from the keyboard. He does everything but write. He reads. He mows the lawn and weeds the flowerbeds. He shops or does household chores. He plays with the dogs and cats. He picks up that instrument of eternal torment, the phone, and calls a friend – preferably not another writer – to bitch about things worth bitching about. If he’s resolute, then when he’s ready to seek refuge in the arms of Morpheus, he will have added zero words to the aggregate of man-made prose. He can hope for a better day on the morrow.

     This feels like such a day to me. So I figured I’d write about it.


     There are many absurdities in the world. The ones that annoy me most are:

  • Unjust and unsound generalizations;
  • Important, timely generalizations that people fear to make;
  • An unwillingness to note the exceptions to sound generalizations;
  • An unwillingness to accept that those exceptions are exceptional.

     It is not the case that “every rule has exceptions.” That’s a bit of folk unwisdom that’s outlived its time. But the most important generalizations about people – i.e., the ones about our behavior in the face of certain conditions and stimuli – certainly do.

     For example, the “Antifa” clowns around Berkeley, California formed a generalization about persons in the Right: specifically, that “Antifa” could attack us physically with confidence that there would be no counterattack. The most recent confrontation violated their expectation. However, whether that event was an exception or the demonstration of another, superior generalization – i.e., that once one side has rejected the rule of nonviolence in discourse, neither side will honor it – remains unclear. The decision by Berkeley’s chapter of Young America’s Foundation not to risk another violent altercation for the sake of hosting Ann Coulter has left it undecided.

     People really ought to conform to their types. It annoys me greatly when they refuse to do so.


     Not too long ago, I wrote this:

     We elevated a consummate deal-maker to the presidency. He’s out there doing his best to make deals – deals that he believes will serve America’s interests. Was it really imaginable that he would superglue himself to any set of policy prescriptions?

     There’s a generalization in there: A deal-maker will strive to make deals. It’s not without exceptions. Whether Donald Trump, now the president of these United States, will demonstrate any exceptions remains to be seen. However, as famed bridge expert Terence Reese once said, the race may not always be to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.

     It is reasonable – i.e., in conformance with his established pattern – to expect President Trump to view any clash over legislation, executive action, or foreign policy as the start of a negotiation. His practice for many years has been to accept the best outcome available, if it’s at all acceptable. He will walk away from the table if he deems it right or prudent. But that doesn’t mean he has no inflexible stances. The next few weeks could reveal such stances, especially concerning the growing threats from North Korea and Iran.


     Concerning observable patterns in the behavior of the Left, especially its younger adherents, we have this article:

     A group of Yale University graduate students announced Tuesday evening that they would be undertaking a hunger strike to pressure the administration into granting them better union benefits. The strike is taking place in front of University President Peter Salovey’s home.

     "Yale wants to make us wait and wait and wait … until we give up and go away," the eight members of the graduate student union Local 33 announced. "We have committed ourselves to waiting without eating."

     A hunger strike! How Gandhi-ish. How calculated to stir the sympathies of other perennially entitled patsies young idealists! But if we read a little further into the article, it seems things are not quite that stark:

     As it turns out, the hunger strike might not put anyone's health in peril. According to a pamphlet posted on Twitter by a former Yale student, the hunger strike is "symbolic" and protesters can leave and get food when they can no longer go on.

     Yale’s young Leftists dislike the idea of deprivation and discomfort, you see. It really “shouldn’t” be necessary for them to get what they want. But as I’ve observed before in a different context, in the Land of Should:

  • All programs work perfectly on the first try;
  • All programs do everything and take no time to develop;
  • Even the most complex programs take up no memory or disk space, and require no operator familiarization!

     Please read the entire article. The tweet stream alone is more than worth your time.


     One more grump and I’ll close for today. This one concerns a disliked blogging colleague, whom I will not name nor link. It’s about the difference between personal and ideological villainy.

     This colleague, you see, has a friend who was recently swindled by a sharpster who calls himself a libertarian. In consequence, the colleague has condemned libertarians. In fact, the title for the relevant piece suggests that we should all be killed. His basis is the claim that libertarians hold that anything that’s legal therefore can and should be done: a slander of the first water.

     Was he being sarcastic? It’s hard to tell; he’s not a particularly good or clear writer. One thing does come through clearly: he despises us as a group.

     I can easily agree that the sharpster who swindled his friend, though apparently without actually breaking the law, is a villain, the sort that decent persons should ostracize. But to assert that libertarians generally would approve of the sharpster’s actions is baseless and vicious. As I’m a libertarian and know a number of libertarians and sympathizers, I can refute that notion without a qualm.

     Libertariansm, within its domain of application, is wholesome and sound. It’s the only governing philosophy founded on a moral principle: the absolute inviolability of individuals’ natural rights. That the political organization called the Libertarian Party has been taken over by fringy types does not bear on the ideology. Neither is it a condemnation of the ideology that there are some who style themselves libertarians but behave in a tawdry, fraudulent, or villainous manner.

     The same, of course, could be said about Christianity and those who call themselves Christians.


     Having scrubbed all that off the bottom of my brainpan, I believe I am adequately prepared to go a full day without writing. Will my resolve be equal to the test presented by my excessive loquaciousness? Will my fingers stray to the keyboard while my attention is elsewhere? We can only wait and see.

     Later, Gentle Reader.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Quickies: For My Catholic Readers

     I’ve said it before: The pope is not infallible on non-theological subjects. But the Church hierarchy would like us to forget that:

     Because of the statement of Vatican II that “religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra,” and “must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will,” Catholic leaders and publications tend to think that they must adhere to anything the Pope says about anything.

     Well, what about Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio – excuse me, Pope Francis – and his obeisance toward Islam?

     As the prototypical progressive Jesuit, Pope Francis prides himself on his “ecumenism.” He oozes enthusiasm for every religion except his own. At the top of his list of favorite religions is the Church’s fiercest adversary — Islam.

     He often sounds more like a spokesman for CAIR than a Catholic pope. After jihadists cut off the head of a French priest in July 2016 — yelling “Allahu Akbar” over the priest’s slit throat — Pope Francis rushed to the defense of Islam. “I don’t like to talk about Islamic violence, because every day, when I read the newspaper, I see violence,” he said, before ludicrously blaming the rise of terrorism on the “idolatry” of free-market economics: “As long as the god of money is at the center of the global economy and not the human person, man and woman, this is the first terrorism.

     The pope is a hard-left “progressive:” i.e., a socialist. He’s singlehandedly destroying the greatest of all human institutions from its power seat. Catholics worldwide have no idea how to deal with him. The College of Cardinals is largely useless.

     Pray.

Long March News

     By now I’m sure all my Gentle Readers have learned about the cancellation of Ann Coulter’s appearance at Berkeley, which was scheduled to occur today. In other Left Coast news, Portland, Oregon’s annual Parade of Roses was cancelled for the same reason. I’m certain we have only a few hours before a hue and cry arises over President Trump’s pledge to return K-through-12 education to state and local control. Instapundit readers will already know that graduate-student-union activists have attacked an internationally famous chemist as a “rape apologist.”

     So what else is new? Well, there’s a Liberty Zone tirade about the decline of trust in the news media, and Darin at Crusader Rabbit discusses why Fox News is moving leftward. I must admit, it disturbed me somewhat that in his new tenure over Bill O’Reilly’s vacated slot, Tucker Carlson (“He’s so cute!” – my wife) chose to interview Caitlyn Jenner as his first priority. But if Darin is correct, it’s all of a piece. Money talks, don’t y’know.

     There are the ongoing attempts to erase history. There’s the usual Islamic agitation for special privileges. There’s all the usual bashing of Christians, men, white people, and anyone else with too much pride to form their own special interest group. Keeping track of all this stuff is cutting into the time I need to purge my hate mail.

     A little more of this and we’ll have lost the culture, fellow freedom lovers. Maybe we already have.


     The emergence of citizen journalism, conducted mainly via the Web, seemed promising. The explosion of indie writers and filmmakers heartened me considerably. The homeschooling movement, coupled to the proliferation of school-choice initiatives, promised to bring important change. And of course, there were the talk-radio stations and Fox News. For a while, it looked as if we might break the culture free of the Left’s stranglehold.

     I’m not sure why it hasn’t happened. The Left isn’t good at journalism (it suppresses the most important news), entertainment (there are irritating leftist political messages embedded in everything), or education (our kids are coming out both stupid and deluded). Out-competing them seemed the way to go. If that’s correct, it’s taking far longer than I hoped. Worse, forces I’d have thought would favor freedom have proved by their behavior to be on the other side.

     The digital revolution, of course, was inherently apolitical. The facilities it created are available to all. Yet it’s we in the Right who’ve striven most determinedly to use them. So why aren’t we getting anywhere?

     Though significant and cheering in and of itself, it would be a grave mistake to overvalue the election of Donald Trump. Remember Andrew Breitbart’s adage: “Politics is downstream from culture.” Ultimately, the culture might prove to be the only battleground that matters.


     In contemplating this matter, I find myself wondering about the importance of communities: neighborhoods and voluntary assemblies such as churches, clubs, and charities. I’d guess that most people don’t think of them as cultural elements, yet they plainly are. Churches promulgate conceptions of morals, ethics, and what constitutes a life well lived. Clubs give emphasis to particular interests and pastimes, themselves important signposts of how we spend our free time. Charities, of course, actuate our fellow-feeling sentiments, which are critical to any view of what is best in life.

     (Do you think there were charity organizations among the Mongol hordes? Myself, I’d bet against it.)

     But Americans’ interest in all three of these things have fallen off. Churches have suffered political infiltration and a correlated decline in attendance at services. Clubs, especially men’s clubs, are waning as well, though the reasons aren’t quite as clear. And though Americans remain the most charitable people on Earth, we’ve been “contracting it out” – i.e., eschewing personal involvement in favor of writing a check to some large, supposedly charitable organization – ever more as time has passed.

     Whatever fraction of our culture is embedded in those institutions has weakened gravely. Nor is it clear how they might be resuscitated.


     “The news is all bad, but it’s good for a laugh.” – Tom Paxton

     Street violence is rising. Privacy and cash are under attack. Transgenderism has become a trend. Communists and left-wing identitarians are bidding to become the dominant voices -- indeed, the only voices -- in the national discourse. The Republican caucuses in Congress have preemptively surrendered to the minority Democrats. Even Donald Trump is retreating from the border wall. Perhaps worst of all, a small number of major institutions have secured effective control of the Internet. They’re fighting the repeal of one of the most pernicious developments of the Obamunist Era: net neutrality. Miraculously, none of them are governments...but give them time.

     Of all the pro-freedom initiatives of the past decades, only one – the right to keep and bear arms – seems to have achieved a net advance. We’ll see shortly whether that’s good news.

     Inasmuch as this is trending ever more depressing, while I have fiction to write and numerous chores of other sorts (don’t ask), I suppose I’ll close with a couple of relevant images:

     Have a nice day.

     UPDATE: Yes, so soon. I’ve already received an email about the above column. My correspondent wrote “Come on, give me an example of some really bad news.” Okay, you asked for it: One of my fellow parishioners tells me that her three children have adopted an exciting new game: racing the timer in their electric toothbrush. Truly, we are doomed.

Monkey business at the OPCW.

OPCW refers to Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. FFM refers to Fact Finding Mission.
We are told that the FFM already took some biomedical samples, which were analysed and revealed the presence of sarin. Moreover, they say that the results of this investigation are final and not subject to any doubt. But let me ask you where, how and when were these samples taken? Was the chain of custody, established by the OPCW itself, complied with when safekeeping the evidence? It would be good to receive answers to these questions, especially since the mission, as we know, has never gone to Syria. I’m asking these questions for a reason. In my remarks on April 13, I already said that the Russian military, who collected the materials testifying to the use of chemical weapons in Aleppo, are being forced to bend over backwards trying to explain how they found the fragments of ammunition, to whom they reported and even asking them to present some obscure logbooks. They kept asking us about this during a special video conference, and posed an ever greater number of questions during a meeting on the sidelines of the Executive Council. And this in spite of the fact that our specialists already have a pretty much clear general picture of what actually happened there. Still, four months later, the FFM has not yet come up with any conclusions. I emphasise that they have been analysing this for four months and are still unable to come with any conclusions. Then here, all of a sudden we see such incredible efficiency and conclusions that are not subject to any doubt. So, think for yourselves why we are insisting that the results of a full-fledged comprehensive investigation should inspire confidence not only to a group of Western countries, but to all other states as well.

The fact that the delegations of some countries, primarily from the Western group, are always shying away from accepting the decisions proposed by us and the Iranians suggests that they are, in fact, not interested in establishing the truth.

~ Ambassador Alexander Shulgin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW, April 19(?), 2017.[1]

Notes
[1] "Russia Responds After US Blocks Inspection of Syrian Air Base. US 'blocked a decision aimed at a prompt initiation of a mission to find out what really happened in Khan Sheikhun', according Russia's OPCW Ambassador Alexander Shulgin." By RI Staff, Russia Insider, 4/23/17.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Good Lord!

     A third post, on a day I’d rather hoped to spend on other things? Well, if I must. The deluge of exceedingly nasty incoming email makes it necessary.

     I am a racist. I’ve made that plain a number of times. However, I am also a scientist, in the exact sense of the word: I respect hypotheses supported by the confirmations of repeatable experiments, and am willing to admit when I’m wrong. What I don’t respect is inane slander, contempt, and assertions made in defiance of the observable facts.

     The piece below embodies my convictions, albeit indirectly. Allow me to make them maximally explicit:

There are statistical differences among the races.
Those differences are manifest in several areas of human achievement.

     Feel free to disagree. My self-regard will be unaffected. But contemptuous, slanderous, , factually incorrect, and otherwise inane comments will do nothing to change my convictions.

     Now for something not so different after all.


     There’s an idea going around that’s drawn some odium. That idea is embodied in a phrase I won’t use just yet. The idea is founded on the belief that the statistical differences between the races make it unlikely that a multiracial society – more specifically, a society that mixes blacks with whites and Asians – can never be adequately stable or peaceful. In consequence of that belief, its holders advocate a political separation of the races, each to nations and / or continents of its own.

     I’m sure you’ve guessed the magic phrase by now. It’s white nationalism.

     Mind you, the proponents of black nationalism have never heard so much as a word of criticism for their representation. Indeed, many whites – frankly, I’d rather not include them among us, but facts are facts – have provided their aspirations with encouragement. But white nationalists are treated as if they were hate-filled, genocidal maniacs.

     Why?

     It’s fairy simple, really: Nowhere in the world is there a black-run nation that has come anywhere close to the standards of living, public order, and general gentility that the white-run nations of the West – for shorthand, the “First World” – have achieved in their own lands. Blacks believe, probably correctly, that their ascent to white levels of prosperity and peace depend upon their association with whites. History – specifically the history of European colonialism in Africa – provides ample evidence to that effect.

     Therefore, the political separation of the black and white races would be disastrous for the blacks. They cannot be serious about their racial nationalism; it would cost them far too much. When white nationalism rises to challenge them, to compel them to put up or shut up, they feel the threat in their bones.

     I have not the slightest sympathy for them.


     I see no need to beat this into the magma layers. I stand where I stand on the basis of statistical evidence and well-recorded historical facts. You, of course, are free to disagree. Indeed, you’re free to marshal evidence and concoct arguments as to why I’m mistaken. If you can do so, very well: invite my attention to them; mail a link to your argument to my public email address. But the slightest hint of contempt for me or my evidentially well supported, logically arrived at position will cause me to ignore you.

     I have sufficient confidence in my own intelligence to snort such slights aside.

I Thought I Was Done For Today...

     ...but a piece linked at Doug Ross’s site has raised my hackles:

     When I come across some web site or material that starts to get racial – like, say, therightstuff dot biz – I go “Ugh!” and don’t look much further. Because assigning importance to race is dumb, whether it’s from the Left or the Right, I usually don’t want to waste my time on people/sites that do it. [Emphasis added by FWP]

     This contemptuous dismissal of the opinions sincerely held by several very bright persons I know -- including myself -- is pretty much the usual. “Dumb,” says this semi-literate...person. Well, if it’s so “dumb” to attribute some degree of causal power to race, how would he explain the strong and persistent correlations among race, intelligence, aggression, and criminality?

     Note that the very same people endlessly willing to call race realism “dumb” (and to spew venom at those of us who hold to it) will tell you that it’s “natural” that football and basketball are dominated by blacks. Yet they frown at the suggestion that it’s “natural” that hard-science doctorates and symphony orchestras are the almost exclusive province of whites and Asians. We who are willing to contemplate such connections must be “dumb.”

     The unwillingness to allow that it might be “natural” that as a statistical matter whites and Asians are more intelligent and less inclined to aggression and criminality than blacks suggests either a thorough indoctrination in political correctness or a deeply driven cowardice.

     A useful tangential observation: it’s very nearly impossible to domesticate the wilderness-bred wolf. It took many generations of selective breeding and careful conditioning to produce the amiable, comfortable companion we know as the dog. No doubt “Gay Patriot” would react to that by accusing me of wanting to institute a eugenic regime among blacks, to breed their aggression out and some intelligence in. But that, too, is a characteristic smear from those unable or unwilling to read racial cards that have been face up on the table for a century and more.

     This has been a public-service tirade by your race-realist Curmudgeon Emeritus.

Assorted

     No, that is not a synonym for “I got nothin’.” Not exactly, anyway.


     1. Old Nazis, New Nazis.

     The Sturmabteilung “Brownshirts” that so greatly assisted Hitler and the Nazis to power in 1930s Germany were brawny men. Indeed, Ernst Rohm would have no other kind. He didn’t much care what else they were: criminals, drug addicts, homosexuals, child molesters, and other categories of unsavory deviant were quite welcome in the SA’s ranks as long as they could and would thrash the opposition.

     Today’s Nazis – AntiFa, Black Bloc, and allied organizations – have somewhat less stringent admissions requirements:

     ...which is probably why, after their most recent humiliation, they’re contemplating not disturbing Ann Coulter’s visit to Berkeley tomorrow:

     Applause to Oregon Muse at AoSHQ. The tempora surely do mutantur, don’t they just?


     2. Frontiers In Officialese.

     I’ve long since thrown up my hands over the inability of contemporary Americans to compose a syntactically correct sentence. It’s been obvious in our casual communications for some time, but never before has it been quite this blatant in an official statement:

     CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – A Lowcountry police department has formally taken a stance on a Senate bill which, if passed, would allow anyone who can legally purchase a gun to carry it in the state openly or concealed.

     The Charleston Police Department tweeted an update on its Twitter account Monday night sharing the department’s opinion on Senate bill S. 449 reading in part:

     “Please understand what this bill creates – the ability for anyone who can legally purchase a firearm, many who have not completed a background check to determine whether or not they are prohibited purchasers due to the location and manner of the transfer or received any type of training, to walk our streets and neighborhoods with a handgun on their hip, in a bag, or under their jacket without any review or training.”

     I’m floored. Did that really come from a departmental opinion? How large is the department? Is its funding adequate? Are its employees paid? Is there no one among those employees, their spouses, their friends and relatives, or their neighbors to whom they could have recurred for help with this travesty?

     Great God in heaven! It’s no wonder every one of my supervisors regularly praised my writing and sent any communication intended for the eyes of higher-ups to me for a prior review. It’s also no wonder so many “police” don’t know the laws they’re supposed to enforce. They can’t read the ones written in good English. As for the others...need I say more?

     By the way, it would be wrong to blame South Carolina’s educational institutions. The problem is just as bad at more northern latitudes.


     3. Handling Time In A Fictional Narrative.

     While we’re on the subject of good writing, here’s a little something for the other indie fiction writers who read Liberty’s Torch: The handling of time in narrative passages is not the same as in dialogue passages. The awkwardnesses produced by mishandling time are seriously disturbing to reader flow. They’re also easily avoided.

     The problem arises because the overwhelmingly most common narrative technique for relating story events is what’s usually called fictional past. The story is told as something that has already happened, not as happening as the reader reads about it. But many an indie writer will fail to treat the narrative consistently. This is especially prevalent in stories told by a first-person narrator. Here’s a typical case (remember, this is narrative, not dialogue):

     I wanted to upgrade the defenses, but I had too much else to do just now.

     “Just now?” When is “now?” Is it the moment at which the story is being told, the moment at which the reader is reading it, or the moment being described within the story itself? The diction is jarring, to say the least. It should have been:

     I wanted to upgrade the defenses, but I had too much else to do just then.

     Alternately, “at the moment” would work. The point should be easy to grasp: In a narrative passage, events and times embedded in the story must employ time-expressions compatible with the ones used to tell the story: present-tense and present-time for dialogue and third-person interior monologue; past-tense and past-time for narration and a first-person narrator’s interior monologue.

     Please, please, fellow indies: As this is an easily avoided fault, please avoid it!

     That’s all for today, Gentle Reader.

Best headline of 2017.

Earth Goes Dark as Thousands of Russian Warplanes Block out the Sun
NATO says unprecedented number of Russian warplanes are terrorizing international airspace.[1]

Close second:

FACT: Eastern Europeans so 'Worried' About Russia That They Spend Next to Nothing on Defense.
Their mouths say one thing, their budgets another.[2]
Money quote:
The likes of Latvia will tell you that Putin is a Soviet revisionist imperialist just dying to gobble up the Baltics, so they're spending 1.41 percent of their GDP on defense.

Not 30 percent, not 20 percent, not 10 percent. Not even 5%.[3]

Let me guess. Uncle Stupid will take care of everything.

Notes
[1] By Rudy Panko, Russia Insider, 4/22/17.
[2] By RI Staff, Russia Insider, 4/17/17.
[3] Id.

Pearls of expression.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has a simple message for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons: Stop with the bullshit.
"Lavrov Dismantles UK-Led Sarin 'Investigation' in 30 Seconds. Lavrov blows the whistle on the OPCW and its 'investigations' in Syria." By RI Staff, Russia Insider, 4/25/17.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Battle For Freedom Of Expression

     The real freedom of any individual can always be measured by the amount of responsibility which he must assume for his own welfare and security. – Robert Welch

     God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it. – Daniel Webster

     The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. – Thomas Jefferson

     It would be easy to say “Freedom of expression? Yeah, we’ve got that already.” The First Amendment, don’t y’know. The Left would purely love that. It opens the door to word-mincing of a sort they’ve made their specialty. The legislative-political campaign against freedom of expression is based on reinterpreting the plain language of that amendment to omit protection of “hate speech:” i.e., anything the Left dislikes.

     No, they haven’t gotten very far with that approach in the legislatures or the courts. That’s why we’ve been reading about open street warfare. “Antifa” and “Black Bloc” thugs haven’t been attacking persons of a conservative, libertarian, or otherwise pro-freedom inclination because we’re breaking some law; they’re doing it because we aren’t — and they purely hate it that other Americans are listening to us.

     Up to recently, the thugs have had their way. Those they’ve attacked have scurried meekly away, tails between their legs. Speakers they’ve disliked have been forced to cancel scheduled appearances for fear of their lives and the lives of their supporters. Only in the most recent encounters have the scales begun to tip the other way.

     But they are tipping the other way. It’s not only a heartening, positive development; it’s a reminder of a basic truth about freedom of any sort: It must be exercised as frequently as possible, lest simple neglect cause it to pass into desuetude.

     They who have taken up cudgels against the thugs are not “securing” our freedom of expression. Freedom cannot be secured; it can only be exercised – and the most important exercises of any specific freedom occur when it’s being violently opposed. We are regaining our freedom of expression, reasserting it by exercise, for one overriding reason: the willingness of patriots to do physical battle in the streets against those who would silence us.


     This morning, Kurt Schlicter declaims thus:

     Liberals should be ashamed of themselves, but then they wouldn’t be liberal if they were born with shame genes. So, since we patriots are the only ones who actually support free speech, what do we patriots do to protect it?

     Whatever it takes.

     We fight peacefully in the political arena, in the courts, and in the shrinking marketplace of ideas while we can, but we must also be ready to fight in the streets when those punky puffboys try to shut us up. No quarter, no compromise, no surrender – we fight and win, or they shut us up forever.

     Look, the left has told us what it wants – the power to force us to be silent and submit. That’s not wacky supposition; that’s not fevered imagination. They are open about their agenda, and it’s happening before our eyes. To pretend that our republic is not facing an existential threat from progressives who would use violence to silence their political opponents is to willfully ignore the evidence, just like a climate cultist ignores cold weather. And the violence has already begun: in fact, it is key to their plan for a free speech-free future. Today it’s gangs of masked thugs attacking us. Tomorrow, it’s uniformed men with guns – or at least those few spineless cowards among our security forces will ignore their oaths to defend the Constitution in exchange for a paycheck and a pension – dragging us off to jail for illegal speech. Or worse.

     That’s as plainly as it could possibly be said. Nor is there anything about it to repel the man of unclouded mind. Every freedom comes with an associated responsibility: the responsibility to defend the exercise of that freedom, by any and every available means. If violence should be required, violence must be used.

     The implications for the immediate future are grim. There will be bloodshed. Indeed, blood has already been shed, though as far as I’m aware no one has yet been killed in one of these street encounters. There will be reams of angry rhetoric and numerous calls for governments to “do something.” Families will be divided as they were at the time of Christ (Cf. Matthew 10:34-35). And the clashes will get worse, possibly much worse, before they get better.

     Only two outcomes are possible. Which one you prefer will depend upon how much you value the freedom of expression. Ponder well whether you might have a personal interest in exercising it some day.


     When I wrote that:

     A man is free if, and only if, he has the unchallenged right to do as he damned well pleases with his life, his property, and with any other responsible, consenting adult, provided only that he respects the equal freedom of all other men. That clearly includes the right to buy space for a political ad from any newspaper or broadcast organ willing to sell it to him.

     ...I was thinking only of challenges to freedom of expression from a government or governments. Today’s “privatized” struggle over who may speak and be heard is of a different color, yet the issues are exactly the same. If a preponderance of force is all that will preserve that right, then we who love freedom must choose between mustering such a preponderance or surrendering. That our opponents are “private” thugs makes no essential difference.

     Mobilized, violent minorities have reduced other nations to totalitarian tyrannies. We fought a hot war against one such nation and a cold war against another. Now a violent minority has mobilized to snuff out freedom of expression in our own land. It has financial backing and political protectors. We don’t yet know how far its street troops are willing to go to have their way.

     It’s time to rise to the challenge.

Teaching your kids.

Here's a tweet on an unrelated issue by public school teacher, LoraJane Riedas, in Tampa, Florida, who didn't like "many" of her Christian students wearing a Christian cross ("gang symbols"):
The public school kids were not invited to the White House egg role this year. #microaggressions . . . .

    — LoraJane Riedas (@LoraJane) April 20, 2017[1]

I'd like to believe that auto-correct is this math teacher's enemy but I rather doubt it.

An Englishman, Simon Murray, once wrote a book about his five years in the French Foreign Legion (does anyone else have a Foreign Legion?). An aristocratic friend came to visit him and, while discussing the entertainment preferences of some of the other Legionnaires, the friend remarked that it never ceased to amaze him how some men would put their most precious possession where he would not deign to put the ferrule of his umbrella.

I think of that story when I contemplate citizens who meekly shell out taxes for government schools and then send their most precious possessions to those schools to be indoctrinated by morons like this woman who are hostile to the fundamental moral foundation of this Christian nation and are themselves sad products of the same system.

Notes
[1] "Lesbian Teacher BANS All Crucifix Necklaces From Her Classroom…Now She’s In Trouble!" By Just An American, Right Wing New, 4/23/17 (links omitted).

Monday, April 24, 2017

Purges

     I had it in mind to write further about learning from the tactics of our opponents in our ongoing ideological war this morning, but another subject has intruded, and quite insistently at that. It’s one of the tactics of the Left that we in the Right should strive not to adopt.

     On the Left, you’re either wholly in accord with the party line or you’re swiftly purged. Various persons with major audiences have been exiled from the Left’s “church outside which there is no salvation” for daring to differ on some item of dogma. The name that comes to mind at once is the late Nat Hentoff: a liberal, and an eloquent one, in every respect but one: his condemnation of abortion. It made him persona non grata among the liberal elite, a fact he often mentioned in his later columns.

     The Left’s absolute unwillingness to entertain debate on any of its doctrines is the ultimate evidence of its abandonment of tolerance as we the hoi polloi understand the term. It doesn’t fit well with a scholium that claims to be “reality-based,” though that claim has become a term of derision. Thou shalt not differ with the priesthood is a commandment more suited to a low-grade religion than to a community of political belief. Though in light of the Left’s unwillingness to allow conservatives or libertarians the opportunity to speak at all, it’s consistent that it should brook no dissent “within the congregation.”

     But the Left’s demand for doctrinal purity isn’t my subject for this fine spring morning. It’s the Right’s pusillanimity about its luminaries’ personal conduct that’s on my mind today.


     With the possible exception of parts of Antares, everyone in the known universe will know by now that Fox TV has expunged talking-head host Bill O’Reilly over an accusation of impropriety toward a female colleague. In the wake of that development, it appears the Left, having tasted blood, will now attempt to get Fox to extend its auto da fe to Sean Hannity, Fox’s most popular talk show host after O’Reilly, with the same sort of assault.

     Sean Hannity is a Catholic, a happily married man these past twenty-four years, and a father of two. His personal conduct has never been called into question. Yet only a few days ago, persons of the feminist Left lodged accusations against him, on the grounds that he invited female colleague Debbie Schlussel to come back to his hotel with him:

     Former Fox News contributor Debbie Schlussel says Fox News host Sean Hannity tried to pressure her into accompanying him to his hotel room for sex, according to a bombshell report from KFAQ radio.

     “Columnist, attorney, and former Fox News contributor Debbie Schlussel appeared on today’s Pat Campbell Show and accused Fox News Prime Time Host Sean Hannity of the same type of behavior that lead to Bill O’Reilly leaving the beleaguered network earlier this week,” said the station’s website.

     Schlussel told radio host Pat Campbell that she and Hannity attended a live taping together in Detroit and after the show, Hannity propositioned her, trying to lure her back to his hotel room.

     “This kind of stuff is all over the place at Fox News and anything that has to do with Sean Hannity,” she said.

     Debbie Schlussel? The Debbie Schlussel? The has-been oversexualized second-stringer who’s strained to insert herself into the major leagues of political commentary for at least two decades? Twenty years ago, I’d have snorted and moved on. Today I’m not so sure – not because the accusations have any substance or merit, but because the Right has become so willing to collaborate with the Left in purging its ranks of anyone touched by the slightest breath of impropriety.

     This sort of cowardice is beneath contempt. But then, considering that Fox purged O’Reilly without giving him a chance to answer the accusations against him, I won’t be surprised if it should treat Hannity in the same fashion.


     The most ludicrously, blatantly unjust thing anyone could do to a public figure is to accept an accusation against him – especially one from a second-rate hanger-on – as proven, without demanding substantiation or corroboration. Yet the Right has done this more than once. The ouster of O’Reilly is only the most recent case.

     It’s especially contemptible when one considers how easily the spokesmen of the Left get away with far worse violations of the proprieties. Bill Clinton didn’t suffer at all for having sodomized Monica Lewinsky in the White House itself. Remember the mantra back then? “It’s just about sex, just about sex, just about sex...

     But it persists. When the accusers have covert allies within the organization being approached for the purge – in this case, Rupert Murdoch’s sons Lachlan and James, who’ve been reported as aiming to move Fox away from its conservative op-ed stance – it can happen too swiftly for any effective riposte.

     Robert Conquest’s Second Law appears applicable here.


     Considering the Left’s infinite forgiveness of the sins and crimes of those favorable to it, that a conservative can be pilloried, and will often be purged by his own people, for having made an innocent remark or having once been seen in the company of a woman other than his wife is among the supreme ironies of our time. It gives special force to Vice President Mike Pence’s policy of never permitting himself to be alone with a woman other than his wife – a self-protective stance the Left has tried to attack as somehow discriminatory against women.

     Once again I must cite my favorite passage from Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age:

     "You know, when I was a young man, hypocrisy was deemed the worst of vices," Finkle-McGraw said. "It was all because of moral relativism. You see, in that sort of climate, you are not allowed to criticise others -- after all, if there is no absolute right and wrong, then what grounds is there for criticism?...

     "Now, this led to a good deal of general frustration, for people are naturally censorious and love nothing better than to criticise others' shortcomings. And so it was that they seized on hypocrisy and elevated it from a ubiquitous peccadillo into the monarch of all the vices. For, you see, if there is no right and wrong, you can find grounds to criticise another person by contrasting what he has espoused with what he has actually done. In this case, you are not making any judgment whatsoever as to the correctness of his views or the morality of his behaviour -- you are merely pointing out that he has said one thing and done another. Virtually all the political discourse in the days of my youth was devoted to the ferreting out of hypocrisy.

     "You wouldn't believe the things they said about the original Victorians. Calling someone a Victorian in those days was almost like calling them a fascist or a Nazi....

     "Because they were hypocrites... the Victorians were despised in the late Twentieth Century. Many of the persons who held such opinions were, of course, guilty of the most nefarious conduct themselves, and yet saw no paradox in holding such views because they were not hypocrites themselves -- they took no moral stances and lived by none."

     "So they were morally superior to the Victorians -- " Major Napier said, still a bit snowed under.

     "-- even though -- in fact, because -- they had no morals at all."

     "We take a somewhat different view of hypocrisy," Finkle-McGraw continued. "In the late Twentieth Century Weltanschaaung, a hypocrite was someone who espoused high moral views as part of a planned campaign of deception -- he never held these beliefs sincerely and routinely violated them in privacy. Of course. most hypocrites are not like that. Most of the time it's a spirit-is willing, flesh-is-weak sort of thing."

     "That we occasionally violate our own moral code," Major Napier said, working it through, "does not imply that we are insincere in espousing that code."

     "Of course not," Finkle-McGraw said. "It's perfectly obvious, really. No one ever said it was easy to hew to a strict code of conduct. Really, the difficulties involved -- the missteps we make along the way -- are what make it interesting. The internal, and eternal, struggle between our base impulses and the rigorous demands of our own moral system is quintessentially human. It is how we conduct ourselves in that struggle that determines how we may in time be judged by a higher power."

     If the Right doesn’t learn better and toughen up about such matters, it will be steadily depopulated by those who have “no morals at all.” Really! If they’re willing to spill blood in the streets, as has been demonstrated recently, why would they refrain from politically profitable slanders? Especially since the lily-livered Right has proved so willing to cooperate with its own purging?